- We can’t afford to ignore US’, UK’s warnings
Terrorists the world over are killjoys. They strike most when guards are lowered and people are celebrating. Therefore, the Christmas and New Year festival season, being the most celebrated in most parts of Nigeria by Christians and non-Christians alike, is one when the security forces should step up their network.
Only two months ago, the Department of State Services (DSS) raised the alarm that the Islamic State, dislodged from Iraq and Iran, has chosen to step up its presence in West Africa, especially Nigeria. So, the terrorism threat alerts that the United States of America and the United Kingdom issued to their citizens over imminent bombings in our capital city should not be dismissed by Nigeria’s security authorities.
Nigerians are not sufficiently trained in identifying and avoiding terror attacks. Yet, we cannot afford to return to the era when choice places, including the United Nations building and the police headquarters in Abuja were attacked and terror spread throughout not only the capital city, but the entire country. This is an opportunity for the government to improve on security tips and education of the people. Drills should be organised for the citizens to enable them know how to avoid and combat terror attacks as is the case in states such as Israel.
While it could be excused that Nigerians as well as the security officials were bewildered when the terror attacks began in the country, there is no such excuse now that the agents and purveyors of death have been with us for long. The drills should not be limited to Abuja or the other six Northern states of Jigawa, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe and Yobe, but other prominent Northern states like Kaduna, Plateau, Kano and Kogi, among others. Similarly, Southern states that are sleeping, believing that such danger is far from them should be aroused from their slumber. Terrorists are adept at striking in areas where they are least expected. In recent times, some of their operatives have been arrested in Lagos and Ogun states.
At a time Nigerians are still groaning over the effects of biting economic challenges, pervasive insecurity should not be added to their woes. Thus far, the terrorists have been restricted to mainly North Eastern states of Adamawa and Borno, a spread would have devastating effects on the national psyche. States and local leaders, including political leaders in the local government areas and traditional rulers in major towns and villages should be recruited into the task of raising awareness and training the people about how to identify the terrorists and partner with security agencies.
The Christmas and New Year season is traditionally known for mass movement across the country and, as motor parks and markets are known to have been targets of the attacks in the past, drivers and their unions, including the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) should be involved in all anti-terror campaigns, while the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), reputed to conduct safety tips for the ‘ember’ months should be drawn into the scheme. The sleepy National Orientation Agency (NOA) and similar agencies of the federal and states information ministries should not be left out of the all-important campaign.
But it is high time we stopped relying on foreign governments to draw our attention to imminent danger and what must be done. We ought to be more proactive by stepping up intelligence gathering in all parts of the country. We remind President Muhammadu Buhari that one major reason he won the hearts of the electorate at the last election was the promise to tackle terrorism and win the war.
Neither the war, nor the battle has been won, even though it cannot be denied that the country is safer now than it was when he assumed office in 2015. Utterly defeating the terrorists is a task that must be done.